Posted by: notdeaddinosaur | July 30, 2014

Good Guys and Guns

Just in case there’s anyone left who hasn’t heard, there was a shooting in a hospital last Friday. A mentally ill patient brought his legally-owned gun into his psychiatrist’s office, where he proceeded to shoot and kill his case worker. He then pointed the gun at the doctor, who ducked behind a chair, drew his own legally-owned, concealed-carry pistol, and proceeded to shoot the patient in the arm and torso, disabling him and preventing him from utilizing the rest of his ammo (approximately 40 bullets total).

Official comment was swift and relatively unanimous:

Yeadon Police Chief Donald Molineux said that “without a doubt, I believe the doctor saved lives.”

“Without that firearm, this guy [the patient] could have went [sic] out in the hallway and just walked down the offices until he ran out of ammunition,” the chief said.

Wow. There it is. Can’t argue that at that specific time, in that specific place, in those specific circumstances, a guy with a gun he wasn’t supposed to have (per hospital policy) shot an armed individual who had already killed, preventing him from killing more people.

No, the first guy should never have had the gun. No argument there. And as it turns out, at this particular time and place, the doctor’s actions were appropriate. (The word “heroic” has been used; I do not disagree.) I can hear it now; all the 2A fundamentalists gleefully preparing to jump me:

“See! How can you possibly doubt the wisdom of our position now? A good guy with a gun stopped a bad guy with a gun.”

Yes. Yes he did.

How does this change my stance on responsible gun control? Not much. Why not? From the Harvard Injury Control Research center:

  1. Guns are not used millions of times each year in self-defense.
  2. Most purported self-defense gun uses are gun uses in escalating arguments and are both socially undesirable and illegal.
  3. Firearms are used far more often to intimidate than in self-defense.

References and more here. Rare events are rare. The fact that people win the lottery every day doesn’t make the purchase of a ticket a sound financial investment.

So in what way, if at all, has my thinking changed? This: Successful, legitimate use of concealed firearms is so rare that, to be honest, I doubted that it ever really happened at all. I now admit that, clearly, it does. At least it did. This once.

Do I intend to seek training in order to procure and carry a weapon of my own? No.

Do I continue to believe there are too many guns in this country without enough adequately enforced regulation, producing orders of magnitude more suffering and death from firearm violence than in any other developed country in the world? Yes.

Extending deepest condolences to the family and friends of the slain caseworker, Theresa Hunt, and wishes for a speedy recovery to Dr. Lee Silverman.


  1. “Successful, legitimate use of concealed firearms is so rare that, to be honest, I doubted that it ever really happened at all. ”

    Because you know of a way to document ways gun owners have diffused situations because they have a gun? If I am forced to brandish my weapon to stop a situation, I don’t report that to the police. How can you even calculate the situations upon which you base your premise?

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